From The Las Vegas Sun — Originally published Monday, Jan. 19

American voters in November gave Democrats a mandate to make sweeping changes in Washington. The House wasted little time providing evidence of that change Wednesday when it overwhelmingly passed much-needed legislation to expand health care for poor and middle-class children.

And President-elect Barack Obama wasted little time encouraging the Senate to approve expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program so that he could make it one of the first bills he signs into law. When that happens it will be a radical change from President George W. Bush’s two vetoes of similar legislation.

... Republicans who opposed the bill grumbled that it would pull families away from private health care plans. But that is a weak argument because many families are uninsured due to the fact that they cannot afford premiums or aren’t covered through their employers.

Extending the health insurance program is not only a matter of compassion. It also will promote preventive health care that will save taxpayers money in the long run by treating ailments early and reducing the possibility of costly emergency room visits or chronic illnesses down the road. Republicans who voted against this legislation failed to see that connection, which is an example of why voters demanded change.

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